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An examination of the individual and environmental factors influencing the visual control of braking during cycling: Implications for city planning

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Navarro
    Dr M Dicks
    Dr F Lemes
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2019.

The PhD will be based in the Department of Sport and Exercise Science and will be supervised by Dr Martina Navarro, Dr Matt Dicks and Dr Fabiano Lemes De Oliveira.

The work on this project will:
-reveal the underlying mechanisms of the visual control of braking during cycling
-identify key aspects in cycling traffic accidents reduction
-better inform city planners on how to design efficient cycle paths when planning sustainable cities.


Project description

The purpose of this PhD project is to develop understanding of braking in cycling and critically examine how performer’s skill and environmental constraints interact during this task. As an increasingly wide-spread form of transportation, cycling is a goal-directed locomotion task mainly guided by visual information. According with the gaze constraints model, riders can obtain visual information from two regions: the “near” region for stability and vehicle control, and the “far” region for guidance and hazard perception. The allocation of gaze in the first region would increase with task complexity and decrease according with performers’ riding skills, while gaze in the second region would increase with cycling speed and environment unpredictability. An increase in both direct control and anticipation increase attentional demand and mental workload. Higher levels of attentional demand and mental workload can increase the probability of an accident as soon the task-demands increase.

Therefore, a better comprehension of the relationship between performer perception-action and environmental constraints during braking in cycling can offer valuable information to city planners. In order to test the gaze constraint model, the proposed project will critically examine the effects of cycling speed, path width and curvature, cycling experience and environmental cues on gaze behaviour and performance of cyclists during braking. This project will also offer an exciting opportunity to test “the best” cycle path planning suggested by the results from the gaze constraint model experiments.

In the first phase of the project the eye-tracking technology will be utilised to measure inexperienced and experienced cyclists gaze patterns when cycling and braking in a natural controlled environment (e.g. sports hall). During this phase, different cycling conditions will be created by manipulating cycling speed, path curvature and width and environmental cues to test cyclers performance when they have to stop predictably and unpredictably.

Results from Phase one will inform the design of virtual cities in a virtual environment in order to safely test the “best” paths for sustainable cities (Phase two). In Phase two eye movements and riding performance will also be measure in order to compare with results from the natural condition. It’s expected that the project will deliver the three following outcomes: 1. reveal the underlying mechanisms of the visual control of braking during cycling, 2. identify key aspects in cycling traffic accidents reduction and 3. Better inform city planners on how to design efficient cycle paths when planning sustainable cities.


Entry Requirements

General admissions criteria
You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum second class
or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate
subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or
Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

We’d welcome applications from candidates with a background in human factors, motor control, experimental psychology, or a related subject area. The successful applicant will receive training and support to develop the skills that will enable the novel integration of eye movement (eye-tracking) measures in a virtual reality technology. Experience in both eye tracking and virtual reality isn’t mandatory but valuable. We are seeking to appoint an enthusiastic and committed candidate with excellent interpersonal and organisational skills as well as an understanding of quantitative research methods.

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Martina Navarro ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Sport Science’ as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.


If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SPES4880219 when applying.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for a Portsmouth Global PhD scholarship.

Successful candidates will receive a scholarship to cover tuition fees at an international rate for three years, a stipend in line with that offered by Research Councils UK of £14,777 per annum (2018/2019 rate), and one return flight to London during the duration of the course.



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